While superhero movies and television shows grow bigger with each year, it’s good to remember the smallest superheroes around. The ability to shrink in size is a long celebrated superpower, with teams like the Justice League, the Avengers and the Legion of Superheroes all having members who can shrink to near microscopic sizes. With live action appearances by both the Atom and Ant-Man this year, one could argue that 2015 is “The Year of the Shrinking Superhero”. (No one would actually win that argument, though). To celebrate this weekend’s release of Ant-Man, let’s take a look at the five biggest tiny heroes around.
Doll Man was the first Golden Age hero with the ability to shrink sizes. Unlike other size shifting superheroes, Doll Man could only switch between two sizes: a height of six inches and his normal height. Doll Man fought alongside his diminutive partner Doll Girl and Elmo, a Great Dane that Doll Man would often ride into battle. While originally published by Quality Comics, DC incorporated the character as a member of the Freedom Fighters. DC rebooted Doll Man several times, with the latest version fighting alongside Phantom Girl in the New 52.
The first DC hero to be named the Atom was a short slugger named Al Pratt with an atomic punch. As DC reinvented its characters at the start of the Silver Age, it took the Atom’s short size one step further. The new Atom was Ray Palmer, a brilliant physicist who uses a piece of dwarf star material to shrink down to microscopic sizes. Since Palmer’s skill set wasn’t geared towards traditional superheroics, many of the Atom’s early adventures centered around weird alien creatures and supernatural threats. The Atom joined the Justice League and frequently teamed up with his good friend Hawkman. After his ex-wife went insane and orchestrated an attack against several family members of the Justice League, Palmer abandoned his Atom persona and disappeared for a time. His friend and student Ryan Choi succeeded him as the Atom during his disappearance. A third Atom named Rhonda Pineda joined the Justice League in 2012, but quickly revealed herself to be a traitor working for an evil alternate universe version of the Justice League called the Crime Syndicate.
While Colossal Boy is typically known for his ability to grow to enormous sizes, the 2005 version of the Legion of Superheroes gave the character an interesting twist. Gim Allon was a member of a race of giants living in Antarctica. Unlike others from the city, Allon had the ability to shrink down to a size of about six feet, allowing him to live among “little people” and aid the Legion in their fights. While Allon insisted on calling himself Micro Lad to clarify his true abilities, most of the Legion still refers to him as Colossal Boy since his size is what usually is most effective in battle.
C’mon, did you really think we would write an article about tiny superheroes without mentioning Ant-Man? Ant-Man is one of the founding Avengers and one of the first superheroes to appear in the Marvel Age of superheroes. Scientist Hank Pym discovered a rare form of subatomic particles that could cause matter to shrink in size. After his first experiment with the particles ended with him trapped inside an anthill, Pym also developed technology that allowed him to communicate with ants. While Pym’s had plenty of problems of his own, the Ant-Man suit and powers have passed on to several new heroes, including reformed crook Scott Lang and not so reformed slimeball Eric O’Grady.
If a list includes Ant-Man, it better include the Wasp as well. Janet Van Dyne started her superhero career as the partner and love interest of Hank Pym, but she emerged from her typical “female sidekick” role into an effective leader and strategist. Joining the Avengers, the Wasp frequently led the team into combat and also convinced several heroes to join, expanding the team’s roster greatly. When Captain America created an “Avengers Unity Squad” made up of both X-Men and Avengers, Wasp joined the team, smoothing tensions between the two sides and even starting a romance with the superhero Havok. The Wasp’s current status is unknown, as the character disappeared alongside Havok in the aftermath of the Axis storyline.
Who are your favorite size-shifters? Let us know in the comments!